Canadian Paralympian Ina Forrest became a wheelchair curler after an unexpected trip to Costco back in 2004.
Now a four-time medallist, who has been representing Canada since 2007, the B.C. native met a wheelchair curler during that outing, which drew her to taking up the sport.
“A guy from Kelowna, who was an avid wheelchair curler, came up to me and said, ‘Have you ever thought about trying wheelchair curling?,’ ” Forrest said, during an interview with the Toronto Observer.
“My youngest was just going into kindergarten. I thought, I’ve got afternoons free now, it’d be nice to be back in sport.”
After working hard for more than half a decade, she made her Paralympics debut in 2010, winning gold with Team Canada. That was the first of her four Paralympic medals, with the most recent one being her bronze medal at Beijing 2022.
Forrest chose curling as her sport but was close to picking biathlon over it. Eventually, she backed out from the latter because of how it would keep her away from her family.
“Biathlon was a bit of a stretch for the amount of training it took when I had three small children,” she said. “And they trained a lot away from home, over in Europe.”
On the other hand, Forrest, who was injured in a car accident at 21, could practice curling at a nearby rink, and continue to stay close to her family.
“Wheelchair curling really fit with me because I could just go to the curling rink and practice whenever I wanted to, and then get on with the hope that I would make the national team,” she said.
Forrest barely had any experience with the sport before taking it up seriously in 2004.
“I curled but just company bonspiels,” she said. “I didn’t have that much experience with curling or any understanding of it at that start.”
The mother of three has since been a part of four of a total five podium Paralympic campaigns for Team Canada’s curling team, but she isn’t committing for the 2026 edition in Italy already.
“You have to reassess where you are in your life and whether you are feeling that you want to put in another four years,” she said. “So yeah, I’m still thinking and deciding.”